In 1858, Lord Egerton presented a piece of land to build a school for the poor children of Burnage. The school was managed by a board including Lord Egerton, along with the rector and wardens of St Paul’s Church, Withington, which was the Parish Church for the area until 1874.
It was the first school for Burnage and in 1861 had 47 students: 11 boys and 36 girls attending. This was before education became compulsory for children and children as young as 9 worked on farms or in factories for long days.
The school was registered with the Ministry of Education in 1870 and the first certified teacher - Miss S Loose – was appointed.
With the Parish Church being 2 miles away, it was felt that Burnage needed its own. Mr Hugh Brierley MP laid the foundation stone for St Margaret’s Church in 1874. Designed in the Gothic style, the exterior walls were built of Runcorn and Lymm stone which would have been pulled along Burnage Lane in a horse and cart!
In 1891, a kitchen was added to the school. Around this time there was much national discussion about childhood poverty and malnutrition. Campaigners like Margaret McMillan were arguing that if education was to be compulsory, then local authorities should be responsible for feeding the children. Parliament finally passed into law the Education (provision of meals) Act in 1906. The National School may have been ahead of the national debate here!
In 1893 the new Parish Church of St Margaret’s took over the responsibility of the school from St Paul’s.
The school was closed in 1935, and pupils were transferred to Green End School. This wasn’t the end of the building however, and it continued to be used as a church hall and Sunday school. It was even rented out to American Forces in preparation for D-Day!
In 1995 it was demolished to make way for a car park. During demolition a pre-1850 brick-lined well was found! This was possibly to serve the cottage which sat on the church site in the early 19th century.